Ferromagnetic Input Device (with ball bearings!)

An interesting project from Microsoft Research that uses an array of magnetic sensors to allow the detection of “any ferrous object placed on or near its surface”. The BeatBearing is referenced (in the paper below) as a possible future application, which would allow the sensing of object above the surface, and other properties such as rotation of the ball bearings. Both of these features would open up a whole lot of new possibilities!

Paper link: A Reconfigurable Ferromagnetic Input Device – Microsoft Research

Video link: YouTube


BBC radio interview

Was interviewed this afternoon by BBC radio Ulster about the BeatBearing project. Apparently it should be appearing in tomorrows `What’s Next‘ program at noon (with a repeat on Monday at 19:30). One benefit of the interview was that in preparing the demo I’ve managed to get the BeatBearing to sync fairly reliably with Ableton Live – a feature that’s always been a little shaky before. I’ll attempt to get the video evidence of this up soon!


TEI’10 poster


I’ll be attending TEI’10 this weekend and next week (the 4th international conference on tangible, embedded and embodied interaction), and taking part in the graduate student consortium. As well as the GSC day I’ll be taking part in the poster session. A copy of the poster I’ll be presenting is above (and a full un-pixellated pdf here). I’ll hopefully have chance over the next week to keep the blog updated with interesting projects from the conference.


video of first BeatBearing MAKE project

This is the first video I’ve seen of a completed MAKEzine BeatBearing. Many thanks to ‘awolfe63‘ for putting this up. Another BeatBearing build is being documented in this blog: http://jsavaglio.wordpress.com/.If anyone has any other BeatBearing videos (including unfinished projects) please send me the link!
Also, if anyone is looking for tips, or has some of their own to share, then please have a look in the forum: www.beatbearing.co.uk/make.html

Calling all Makers!



The MAKE magazine article showing how to build your own BeatBearing is now out digitally and on the news racks. You can have a look at a digital preview here. Here’s the blurb:

“MAKE Volume 17 goes really old school with the Lost Knowledge issue, featuring projects and articles covering the steampunk scene, makers creating their own alternative Victorian world through modified computers, phones, cars, costumes, and other fantastic creations. Projects will include an elegant Wimshurst Influence Machine, an electrostatic generator built entirely from Home Depot parts, a “Florentine Flask” siphon coffee brewer, and a tea cup-powered Stirling Engine. The section will also cover watchmaking, letterpress, the early multimedia art of William Blake, and other wondrous and lost (or fading) pre-20th century technologies.”

If you or anyone you know ends up making a BeatBearing it would be great to see some photos of the results. I’m trying to gather together as many examples as possible to use as design cases for my PhD thesis. This is a chance for your project to immortalised and documented in the same thesis as the original BeatBearing, so please get in contact with me at: pete [at] petecube [dot] com.
An alternate method is to add your project to the relevant section of the BeatBearing forum. This forum may also be useful for finding tips and revisions to the design. Please post in the forum first before directly emailing me with questions, as this will benefit all other makers with the same problem!

Radio Interviews

A couple of new radio interviews with me talking about the BeatBearing:

  1. Morning Ireland” on RTE. This interview also includes my PhD supervisor Sile O’Modhrain and SARC colleague Mark McKeague. Mark talks about his Twitter radio project – I’ll include the video below. Thanks to Eimear Lowe for doing the interview. You can download/listen to the interview here: [mp3] or [stream]
  2. Phantom Daily” on Dublin’s Phantom 105.2 fm. In this interview I get to waffle on about the Tenori-on, acid house and free jazz amongst other things BeatBearing related. Thanks to Róisín O’Dea and Simon Maher for the interview. You can listen/download the interview from here: [mp3]

p.s. More info on Mark’s Twitter Radio in this BBC story